Green Recovery – Work In Progress

Believe it or not, the Tokyo Olympic Games will commence this Friday. On the other side of the globe, Euro 2020 just finished 51 matches in 11 cities around Europe. The stadiums were so packed, and you can hardly see anyone wearing a mask among the audience. Does it make you wonder, is the world fully recovered from COVID-19?

We all know the answer is “NOT YET”. And that is why we keep seeing Green Recovery initiatives proposed from governments and institutions ever since last summer. Today, we would like to take a look at what has been done, what is new, and what to look forward to in the future regarding Green Recovery.

e Support from Government

Green recovery is a widely adopted name for a proposed package of environmental, regulatory and fiscal reforms to recover prosperity after the COVID-19 pandemic.[1] There has been broad support from political parties, governments, activists and academia across the world to ensure that investments to lift countries out of economic recession are spent in a way that combats climate change, including the reduction of coal, oil, and gas use, as well as the investment in clean transport, renewable energy, eco-friendly buildings, and sustainable corporate or financial practices.

The European Union is at the greener end of the spectrum. About 30% of its €750 billion ($891 billion) EU-wide stimulus plan and its €1.1 trillion ($1.3 trillion) 2021-2027 budget will be dedicated to climate-friendly investments. Among individual EU countries, France and Germany have announced the most green measures.[2]

The world’s 50 largest economies have pledged to spend trillions of dollars on post-pandemic recovery initiatives, estimated to total $14.6 trillion. Of the $14.6tn spending announced by the world’s largest 50 countries in 2020, $1.9 trillion (13%) was directed to long-term ‘recovery-type’ measures.

Different countries have proposed different focus through their green recovery package. For example, Germany’s package includes €15 billion ($17.8 billion) for sustainable transport, including electric car and bus subsidies, EV charging infrastructure and public transportation. Sweden imposed conditions on Scandinavian Airlines to help achieve its goal of reducing carbon dioxide emissions 25% by 2025. New Zealand’s recovery plan invests $740 million in restoring wetlands and controlling pests and weeds, which the government expects to create 11,000 new jobs.[3]

Innovative Actions from Different Sectors

Proposals for a “green recovery” vary widely according to the proponents.

Earlier in July, New York State launched a 9 million dollars fund to support research into technologies that capture atmospheric carbon, storing it within useful products like construction materials or bioplastics. The Carbontech Entrepreneurial Fellowship Program aims to establish New York as a hub for carbon-to-value technology and is part of a larger state plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 85% by 2050.[4]

Halfway round the world, a climate-conscious music festival will debut in south London’s Brockwell Park in September. Wide Awake will be a one-day festival with a new climate-first ‘positive policies’ including promises to use biofuel and eco-toilets, to bury no waste in landfill, and a ban on single-use plastics, an idea adopted by similar festivals.[5] The team will also report back afterwards to identify any areas for improvement, and to create a template for other festivals.

Eyes on Hong Kong for Eco Expo Asia 2021

Eco Expo Asia 2021 will be held on 27-30 October in Hong Kong. The theme for this event is “Promoting Green Recovery for Carbon Neutrality”. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about an unprecedented crisis that calls for concerted efforts to provide a green recovery for strengthening the economy and protecting the environment in an integrated way.

In November 2020, the Hong Kong Government announced the goal of achieving carbon neutrality before 2050. To this end, the government updated its Climate Action Plan with a target of Hong Kong to “become a livable city with air quality on par with major international cities” by 2035.

Earlier in February 2021, Hong Kong launched the “Waste Blueprint for Hong Kong 2035”, advocated “Waste Reduction, Resources Circulation, Zero Landfill” to help build a circular economy. In March 2021, Hong Kong’s first EV Roadmap was launched, mapping out a timeline for banning the new sales of conventional fuel-propelled private cars by 2035.

These blueprints set out more proactive strategies and measures to deepen the reduction of carbon emissions by innovatively explore various types of zero-carbon energy and decarbonisation technologies, promote zero-carbon vehicles and green mobility, and develop modern waste-to-energy and waste-to-resources facilities.

Meanwhile, the Hong Kong Government and Hong Kong Trade Development Council are planning to nurture green finance to boost investments conductive to carbon reduction. That’s why we’re keen to keep an eye on Eco Expo Asia 2021, which will provide a valuable platform for showcasing and exploring the latest green and decarbonisation technologies and projects. Stay tuned.

Reference List